Prepping for the Winter Season

Booster organizations shift gears at the end of the fall marching season, putting their focus on winter guard and indoor drumline.

“Winter guard is like the theater,” says Lynn Manning, president of the Bentonville (Arkansas) High School Band Boosters. “You always have to think of something different to be new and fresh.”

When students transition from marching season to winter guard, so do parents and boosters. “Our board has empowered the winter guard parents to step up and take the roles others have performed during the marching season,” Manning explains, noting positions such as chaperones, uniform coordinators, and meal planners.

Building Up

As Bentonville High School continues to grow its winter guard program, now entering its fifth year, the booster organization works with the color guard director, Brian Dutton, to help him keep the program energized. Recent additions include a new junior high group to feed into the junior varsity and varsity teams already established at Bentonville. “This gets the kids excited about guard before getting to high school,” Manning explains.

The introduction of the junior high guard also introduces new parents to the overall Bentonville band program, which is made up of more than 225 students on the field. “Winter guard is a good way for new parents to get their feet wet as they are responsible for fewer students,” Manning says. “We try to build them up to take on continuing roles in the fall.”

Coordinated Efforts

At Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, much of the coordination for winter guard and indoor drumline is handled through email groups and the band’s Facebook page. “I send out an email to our master volunteer list, describing the roles we need to fill and the director’s requests for the groups,” says Adrian Stephens, band administrative manager. “I then create new email groups based on the responses I receive from interested volunteers.”

Stephens’ goal is to confirm commitments for parents to feed the students at competitions, chaperone the performers at events, and drive the trucks that tow equipment trailers. Another goal is to secure enough volunteers to staff the winter guard and indoor drumline event that Liberty has hosted the last two years.

“After we send out the email asking for volunteers, we hold a meeting to explain the responsibilities,” Stephens says. “This event involves additional roles, such as concessions, parking enforcement, hospitality, and ensemble check-in.”

Of the approximately 25 students that participate in Liberty’s color guard during marching season (the entire Sound of Liberty ensemble numbers around 80), almost 100 percent transition to winter guard. “Even a few wind players join after marching,” Stephens says. “We also have about 30 students who participate in indoor drumline though not all of those performers come from our marching season.”

Program Unity

Planning for winter programs often coincides with a booster organization’s master plan for the entire year. “Our executive board plans out the year in June,” says Tina Reuther, co-president with her husband, Brian, for the Washington (Missouri) High School Band Boosters. “Preparing everyone well in advance is key, so we know what is coming and what our needs are.”

The Washington High School boosters use an online scheduling system to coordinate volunteer activities and sign-ups for the entire year, and the same system applies to winter guard and indoor drumline.

The director also holds meetings with parents who will support the winter programs. “It’s a different focus because it is a smaller group for each program,” Tina Reuther says. “These parents take on more responsibilities.”

Parents who are not involved in winter programs still participate in band activities in the “off” season. “The focus of the overall booster organization turns to fundraising,” explains Brian Reuther. “We try to hold one event per month, with proceeds benefitting the overall general fund for all band programs.”

The goal is to promote a feeling of unity among all participants and parents. “We don’t draw a distinction between seasons if possible,” Tina Reuther says. “We want our parents to work toward a common goal.”

Photo of Bentonville High School guard by Belinda Johnson Photography.

About author

Stacy N. Hackett

Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning freelance writer and technical editor based in Southern California. She writes frequently about software, marching bands, and the pet industry. Stacy is the proud mom of a sousaphone player in the Oregon State University Marching Band, and she has experience on the field as a former bells player with the Los Alamitos (California) High School marching band.

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